Wawrinka Wins French Open to Deny Djokovic Career Grand Slam

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Novak Djokovic & Stanislas Wawrinka
Novak Djokovic, left, and Stanislas Wawrinka at the end of their French Open match on June 7. Photographer: Patrick Kovarik/AFP via Getty Images

Stan Wawrinka struck 60 winners on his way to his first French Open title, denying Novak Djokovic a shot at completing a full set of Grand Slam singles crowns.

The No. 8 seed from Switzerland beat the top-ranked Serb, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 on the main Court Philippe Chatrier at Roland Garros in Paris.

“The match of my life,” Wawrinka said in a courtside interview after he won the match on his 60th winner, twice as many as Djokovic. “It was a great challenge, he’s a great player. I’m still trembling, I can’t believe it,” added the Swiss, who received the Coupe des Mousquetaires from three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten.

At 30 years and 71 days, the 2014 Australian Open winner Wawrinka is the oldest winner of the men’s title since Andres Gomez in 1990. He will move up five spots to No. 4 in the rankings after Sunday’s victory.

Djokovic’s eyes teared up after he received a minutes-long standing ovation from the crowd following his third loss in a Roland Garros final.

“Once again I didn’t play well,” Djokovic told the crowd at the trophy ceremony. “Stan is a great Grand Slam champion, with two titles now, you deserve it.”

Wawrinka played slightly better on the most important points, saving 80 percent of the break points he faced, compared with 73 percent for his opponent. Djokovic made 41 unforced errors -- including eleven in the fourth set alone -- while Wawrinka had 45.

Pre-tournament favorite Djokovic, 28, had been trying to become the eighth man in history to complete the career Grand Slam of all four major tennis championships -- Wimbledon, the U.S., French and Australian Opens.

After being stopped in Paris by Rafael Nadal six times -- including in the 2012 and 2014 title matches -- this had seemed like Djokovic’s year after he beat the Spaniard in straight sets in the quarterfinals.

But Djokovic then needed five sets and two days to overcome Britain’s Andy Murray in the semifinals. Their match finished at 1 p.m. Saturday, after it had been suspended because of an impending storm on Friday night.

Wawrinka won his semifinal against France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday afternoon, giving him 46 hours to rest before his first Roland Garros final. He defeated 2009 champion Roger Federer in the quarterfinals.

39-Shot Rally

The match started in spectacular fashion, with a 39-shot baseline rally in the opening game that ended on an error by Djokovic. Although Wawrinka stood close to the baseline for most of the set ripping groundstrokes, Djokovic was the more consistent player in the first part of the match, breaking serve on a double fault in the seventh game.

Serving at 4-3 down in the second set, Djokovic saved his fourth break point of the set as he kept Wawrinka under pressure and drew the error. After losing the game with a drop shot error, Wawrinka got so frustrated, he twice hit the net with his racket.

Serving to stay in the set at 5-4 down as the wind picked up, Djokovic handed Wawrinka his first set point with a backhand wide, which the Swiss took with a blistering single-handed backhand that forced an error.

After losing the set, Djokovic smashed his racket on the clay and was given a warning from the umpire for racket abuse.

Turning Point

The momentum now with Wawrinka, the Swiss dominated the rallies as he stood on the baseline thumping ground strokes. A backhand down the line earned him three break points for a 4-2 lead, which he took with a forehand passing off a high-bouncing drop shot. Leading 5-2, Wawrinka won a point as he cracked a backhand that went round the net post as a stunned Djokovic looked on from the baseline. Wawrinka clenched his fist after he served out the set to take a two sets to one lead.

It looked like Djokovic would stage a comeback in the fourth set when he broke for a 2-0 lead after a sloppy service game by the Swiss. Instead, Wawrinka got the break back as a tired-looking Djokovic started to make mistakes. Serving at 3-3, Djokovic roared after saving two break points -- one with a backhand volley played at full stretch -- and held. After surviving three break points on his own serve as he moved a weary-looking Djokovic around the court, Wawrinka held for 4-4.

After he saved a break point with a serve-and-volley combination, Djokovic got broken for the fourth time in the match as Wawrinka ripped a backhand down the line. Serving for the French Open title at 5-4, Wawrinka took the match on his second match point with a backhand down the line.

Wawrinka broke through at the 2014 Australian Open, winning his first major after beating Djokovic 9-7 in the fifth set in the quarterfinals. Before this year, he’d never got past the last eight at Roland Garros, and lost in the first round last year.

Djokovic had been the most dominant player all season, not losing since the finals of Dubai in February and winning five titles. His defeat today ends a run of 28 straight match wins.

He vowed he’d be back next year to try and win the title.

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